Bike Tour 2022 – Fort Scott to Erie

My apologies up front for not taking pictures in Fort Scott. There are several mansions that are now B&Bs. They have Victorian features but are built of brick, of course.

After the hotel breakfast I made my way south in search of a new bike lock. I tried to give my business to two hardware stores but their wares were inadequate. I ended up in WalMart and succeeded in a scoring a lame cable lock and some thin lube, Finish Line 2 in 1, which supposedly allows you to skip the chain cleaning step.

I put the lube on the moving parts of my front detailer and on the cable where it passes through the underside of the bottom bracket, the lowest point on the frame. I also tweaked the barrel adjuster on the cable to tighten it. I had one delayed shift to my granny gear all day. I’ll call that a success.

I rode south on a highway out of town into a 10 to 20 mph headwind. I decided to stop looking at my speedometer and just focus on constant effort.

Most of the drivers gave me plenty of room but as the day wore on the drivers’ patience wore thin. Oddly the only cars that honked were approaching not following.

After 20 miles of head winds I turned west to enjoy 34 miles of sidewinds. Having four panniers on my bike made the turn west a dubious improvement. The panniers act as sails forcing me to leave plenty of space between me and the non-existent shoulder.

I was now on US Bike Route 76, which a bit further on became the TransAmerica Trail.

I stopped at a Lutheran church that shelters bike tourists. I used the restroom, refilled my water bottles, and made off with some munchies. (Yes, brother Joe, I took some crunchy Cheetos.)

On this two-lane, 60 mph road I noticed a turtle making its way across the eastbound lane. I saw a car coming eastbound so I turned across the road and waved at the car to move over so as to avoid the turtle. The car slowed and, with the passenger side window down, the driver cursed at me. It was a kid who was apparently challenged by seeing an obstruction in an arrow-straight road in broad daylight. I didn’t react. I think the turtle made his escape.

About a minute later I was back on the right hand side of the road when a minivan pulled up beside me. It’s passenger side window was open and I could hear the driver raging at me. Just completely out of control. I didn’t look at him because I wanted to avoid his car which was very close to my left side.

He yelled that his kid was 14 years old and could have crashed because of me.

How reassuring!

He may be a crappy driver but at least he’s got the road rage thing down just like dear old dad. Mom was in the shotgun seat giving me the business too. I didn’t react. As they drove off Mom asked me why I swerved. “To save a turtle’s life.”

I may be mistaken but I doubt this was a family of Buddhists.

They turned around in the next driveway and roared past me. I waved. All fingers.

These back to back road rage incidents were only the fourth and fifth of my tours. I could go on about how inane it was. As I rode on it occurred to me that I was lucky they didn’t pull an Easy Rider on me.

A few miles later I rolled into Walnut where the local police had given me permission to camp in the town park. I stopped in the town convenience store and had lunch. A bologna sandwich on wheat with potato chips flavored with Argentinian spices, washed down with a Gatorade. Fine dining.

The store clerk told me that the town of Erie had restaurants and a park with camping so I lit out 9 more miles. Erie is two miles south of my route which meant two more miles of headwinds. I found a camp site conveniently near an empty RV slip where I could use a water pump and recharge my phone. All the comforts of home!

Despite the winds I pitched the tent without much difficulty. After washing up I headed to Main Street for vittles and grog. (Craft beer here is Natty Boh. I resisted the urge to ask for a Gansett.)

Tomorrow promises more strong southerly winds. I’m heading north for at least seven miles so I’m feeling the joy already. I’m looking forward to seeing bike tourists along the road.

Todays mileage: 48. Tour mileage: 525.5

Hello, old friend.
Bless me father for I have spinned.
Cuisine de Walnut
All the Groc you can handle
I was getting sick of motels.

Bike Tour 2022 – Butler, Missouri to Fort Scott, Kansas

The Days Inn was pretty good but I knew it would disappoint eventually. The continental breakfast was on a par with the Hermann Motel’s. Stale cereal. A non functioning toaster. Old, bruised fruit.

I ate what I could. The smart move would have been to go to a diner for something substantial but did I do that? Noooo.

I went to a gas station and bought a couple of snacks figuring I’d get something more substantial during my ride. Didn’t I do this exact same screw up a couple of days ago?

I followed Google maps once again and it once again put me on unpaved roads, this time for at least 25 miles. Must not kill.

Western Missouri has plenty of challenging hills so, of course, my front derailer didn’t want to shift into my granny gear. I think it might be a lubrication issue. Failing that it could just be cable stretching. I’ll deal with it soon.

I’m in cow and horsey country. Also saw a few goats and chickens. And was chased by some dogs.

I crossed into Kansas without the coveted Welcome sign. I wasn’t complaining though since the road went from dirt to asphalt.

This area has a large Amish population. I saw a teenage boy in suspenders wearing a straw hat riding a horse. A couple – older man with long white beard, younger woman wearing a bonnet – in the town of Prescott said hello. I asked a teenage girl for directions to food and she sent me to the gas station near the highway.

I finally tried Hunt Brothers Pizza, a ubiquitous offering in gas station food stores throughout the Midwest. I can confirm that it is edible. I followed the pizza with an ice cream sandwich.

The best part about my gas station experience is that it got me away from Google’s route. I road 1/4 mile west, turned left onto an old paved highway and rode rollers all the way to Fort Scott. Along the way I met a northbound cycle tourist who was heading to North Dakota then somehow to California. We chatted for a bit. I bragged about The Mule’s mileage and age, purchased in 1991. He counters with the fact that his Trek was a 1982 model. Bikes last a long time!

Just before Fort Scott, I saw a big private campground with oddly only one RV. I kept riding until I found the police station. They cleared me to camp in the town park. After climbing yet another hill I found the park. Unlike the rest of the park, the tent camping area hadn’t been mowed. There was a big (two car loads) family with noisy bratty kids in the tent camping area.

I checked out the RV area and it had barking dogs and no electricity for my gadgets. I backtracked into town and stumbled across an old hotel in the heart of the old downtown.

The Courtland was built on 1905 when the streets were still unpaved. It reminds me a lot of the Hotel Nevada in Ely where I stayed on my 2019 tour.

This city was once a railroad and brick-making town. It sent thousands and thousands of train car loads of bricks to the rest of the country every week. Even the streets are brick!

Before checking in I locked my bike outside. Afterwards I couldn’t get the lock, an Ottolock, to open. Frank, the hotel manager, eventually freed The Mule with a hacksaw.

Had I stayed at the campground, I’d have been stuck with an immobile bike. So the decision to get a room worked out well.

The hotel is walking distance to several restaurants. I settled on broasted chicken at the Nu Diner. Broasted chicken used to be the big draw at Whitey’s bar in Arlington, Virginia so I had to try it. Gut bomb!

I followed it up with a large chocolate milk shake. A food coma is about to over take me.

Todays mileage: 57. Tour mileage: 377.5.

Blue skies, green fields, dirt roads
Not a bad day for a ride
Did I say “dirt”? I meant “mud”.
Welcome to Kansas. Pavement ahead.
Hard to do a cross country bike tour without a train delay
Brick streets in Fort Scott
Frank, hotel proprietor and lock buster
Flower in the park across the street